Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Am I raising Spaulding Smails?


Here are some major mothering mistakes, right here, out in the open.  In case you want a little review here is what I wrote last summer about this same time.  (My Bad Ass Kids
Let me first preface that First Born is a energy filled, constant moving, attention loving and intelligent. He is loved by his teachers and coaches.  We always get compliments about how focused he is and how he stays away from trouble causing situations, even when they involve his friends.  He is helpful to other children and is generally happy and very confident.  
With that being said, he can be the most complaining and seemingly ungrateful 8 year old I know.  He always wants more.  When at a Phillies game - sitting in amazing seats - he wants to be in the front row, then he wants another hot dog, then he wants popcorn, then he wants to walk around the stadium.  When we tell him ‘no’ to all of these things he sulks, pouts and whines.  See Spaulding When on a vacation in Gettysburg - after spending 2 hours walking through the park - he complains that we didn’t get to see everything.  When going fishing, he complains that he didn’t catch the biggest/first/most fish.  When at the beach he is too hot/cold or his sandcastle is not perfect.  When I tell him to get a shower he wants a bath. When I tell him to get a bath he wants a shower.  
The ingrate does not realize how good he’s got it!  Pretty Damn Good!  We are by no means rich, but our kids want for NOTHING.  There are times I think a good 70s style whoop ass is in order!  Once First Born was complaining that he was the ONLY one of his friends that did not have an DS!   I then asked him why he wanted one, since he hates video games and gets frustrated when playing them.  He said, because everyone else has one! WTF!  (not a good enough answer, you ain’t getting one!) Then he asked for an ipod touch for Christmas. Really?  He is 8!  He likes music and so do I, but an ipod touch?  This is not needed at this age, not to mention that it can connect to the internet and I am not comfortable with that. Besides the fact that I think he just wanted it to play Angry Birds.  He has complained that we don’t have a pool or a cool play set or a garden railroad!  WHAT!  He wants a garden railroad and was pissed when I told him that was unrealistic.  I guess my next project is to go online and find out ways that I can teach and instill fiscal responsibility and deter greed.  
He is not always this way.  There are many times he is very happy and accommodating.  But we never know when Spaulding will rear his ugly head.  When he does act like a spoiled brat, it brings us all down.  No one can seem to fully enjoy the event, if little Mr. 'I want it all and I want it now' is around.  I can, at times, predict when he will act this way - he hasn’t gotten enough sleep, he is hungry, Hub is working a lot, he has been watching too much tv, etc.  These are all indications that he will be miserable and ungrateful.  Although, how long can we use these excuses?  And how long will I feel completely responsible for him acting like a pain in the ass, since it is my job to make sure he is fed, has enough sleep, is not watching too much tv, etc., etc.? 
Just the other day, we were at the Phillies game and all the aforementioned  things happened. The Hub and I decided that we were leaving the game early because he could not stop his complaining.  He cried but did not seem surprised.   When we got home, Hub and I snuck outside to fight about confer and figure out the best way to handle the situation.  We made First Born call and apologize to my dad, who bought the tickets, and my brother who was sitting next to him listening to all his complaints. Then we sent him to bed.   I had to give kudos to my Hub, because what he said really set in. Hub told First Born, “I am not mad, but what you did made me sad and disappointed.”  This hit home, as only a father telling his son, he is disappointed in him, can.  First Born, said “I don’t know why I am so stupid and say stupid things.  I just can’t stop them from coming out of my mouth. I am sad that I treated Pop Pop and Uncle J that way.” I explained that he was not stupid but just has to think before he speaks.  It was a good lesson as he was made to understand what his words and actions do to other people.  That is my main concern.  That he recognizes those around him and how they are affected.    
It may be hard for an 8 year old NOT to be all self absorbed, but it is our job as parents to make sure they aren’t.  I am not doing a great job, but I am working on it. I made a new rule for dinner time.  We are not allowed to talk about the food, unless it is something nice.  I will have no more: 
“Eww, what is this?”   -  It is chicken without breading and don't use that tone!  
“Do I have to eat this?” - No, but you will be hungry, if you don’t because the kitchen is now closed.  
“I don’t like this/It’s too dry/too wet/ touching my other food/too bland/too spicy,”  - I don’t care!  You are lucky I cooked you a meal that we are all sitting down together to eat!  I bust my ass to make food and clean up food all friggin day long and you are going to complain!  GET TO YOUR ROOM!  
Then Hub and I, after many frustrated looks and grimaces to each other, glare at the boys, excuse ourselves and sneak outside to fight about confer and discuss the best way to handle the children.
We have stopped all these dinnertime frustrations.  We can talk about our day or any topic as long as it is not focusing on the food or the eating of the food.  It seems to be working, so far.  

The Little One who is only 4 seems to get it.  But he is just an easy going, don’t rock the boat, type.  (he is a lot like Hub, in that way)  Although when he wants something he has his Jedi mind tricks.   He was a premie and Little One and I both went through a lot just to get him here/keep him here.  He doesn’t ask for or demand much so when he asks “Can you pree-teck me when its time for sleepings in case I have a dream”  we tend to give in a little more than I did with First Born.  Or when he says “I sure like chippy’s and dippy’s. Mommy why don’t you put some out?” (chippy’s and dippy’s is Stacy’s pita chips and Yucatan guacamole, in case you were wondering)  I can’t help but put them out.  He may complain a little if we are going in from outside and he wants to stay out, or if we are not having macaroni and cheese for the 6th time that week, or if he can not watch Alvin and the Chipmunks.... again, but when you tell him ‘no’ he is pretty accepting and easy going. It may just be a personality thing.  
I love my boys.  I want them to be happy and confident, compassionate children that grow into happy and confident, compassionate adults.  NOT Spaulding Smails.
So any suggestions, comments, gaffaws, criticisms?  Have at it!   I am open to anything.